An interview with Ulf Dunkel of iCalamus
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An interview with Ulf Dunkel of iCalamus

When we saw the very powerful Cocoa function library which is offered by Mac OS X (as well as the professional development tools), we then decided to start right from the ground up with a new publisher for Mac OS X. We named it iCalamus, as it should invert the philosophy of Calamus. Calamus SL did everything on its own, not "trusting" any operating system. iCalamus "trusts" Mac OS X completely and avoids using its own routines for this and that. We started work in November 2003 and were done with version 1.0 now on September 29, 2006, after almost three years.

MacGeneration: Are you worried about the competition? It seems there are more and more small DTP software products.

Dunkel: Of course there are, and there have been many competitors before. Users start comparing iCalamus with InDesign and XPress, but I really wonder if ID and XPress users would switch. Most of those who have used XPress for more than 10 years haven't switched to ID, why would they now?

If someone uses ID, it's much more possible that he/she would try iCalamus (at no risk for 99 EUR). We're at the very beginning of a very interesting story now. We at invers Software wanted to place the first native publisher on Mac OS X which was written entirely in Objective-C using Cocoa. Apple themselves placed Pages while we were still busy with our app. But we aren't too excited about their ready-to-go layout philosophy. We want to offer the iCalamus users as much freedom as possible to publish their ideas. Users should feel comfortable with iCalamus at first glance -- and they do.

MacGeneration: Could you explain exactly what is Calamus SL ?

Dunkel: Calamus has been a very famous publisher for the Atari ST/TT series since 1987. When other systems did not even know about vector fonts or print resolutions of 2.540 ppp, Calamus had it all already. It supported black & white only in those days, but users created high professional documents on a computer with only 1MB of RAM and and an 8MHz processor. Calamus was one of the early starters in desktop publishing.

Calamus SL was first true color version of Calamus and was launched in 1991. It was ported to Windows when the original Atari version ran into competition with its Windows NT successor. In 1995, Calamus was sold to MGI in Canada, which was then swallowed by Roxio USA in 2000. I bought back the Calamus rights in 2002 from Roxio, when the Windows version of Calamus had already died. Today we have a vivid Calamus SL user pool of about 4.000 users. A third of them uses Calamus SL under Mac OS Classic and Mac OS X with the help of MagiCMac. Calamus SL can be used under Windows without an additional emulator.

I am quite sure that there are many Mac users who switched to Apple from Atari and many of them remember Calamus from the Atari. iCalamus is NOT Calamus SL, nor does it already open Calamus SL documents. It's completely new, totally different and -- as we believe -- very easy to use. We tried to create a product based on what we've learned in approximately 20 years of Calamus development. I'm sure iCalamus users will love the look and feel of this clean, new, native publisher for Mac OS X.

MacGeneration: How long have you been interested in the Mac platform?

Dunkel: As I mentioned, we came from Atari. In 1994 all Atari users found a new home on Apple computers when Application Systems Heidelberg (ASH) created and released MagiCMac, a kind of Atari Emulator for Mac OS. Thousands of Atari users then switched to the newer system and took their familiar software with them. They did so with Calamus SL, too. But the Classic stuff cannot be compared with the excellent Mac OS X. It seems to have become the most user-friendly operating system ever. It's so cool, and users no longer complain about their system -- they simply use it. This is how we designed iCalamus. Don't think about it, simply use it. Publish your ideas. No restrictions.

MacGeneration: What are your plans?

Dunkel: We gave birth to this little baby iCalamus in late September. It was a nice house birth and the baby already speaks six languages and is much more powerful than we, the parents, would ever have expected. We will help it to grow up and learn much more. Or, in more technical terms: we are currently implementing the third-party developer interface and invite Mac OS X developers who love to write plug-ins for iCalamus in Objective-C using the Cocoa library.

We listen to our new customers (and there are hundreds of new users already now that we just released iCalamus a few days ago) and will try and implement all features which fit in the concept.

MacGeneration: What's your opinion about the Quark XPress/ InDesign war ?

Dunkel: I visited Scotland some years ago. All clan chiefs who decided not to take part in wars in former times still keep the roof on their castle, while the others lost homes and countries. So we don't participate in war games, but invest our power and energy in our product. Let others flame on Quark or InDesign; we offer an alternative that will grow in functions, power and comfort.

 

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